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Twenty Years of Troublegum


Set for an expansive three-disc deluxe reissue in March, the gamechanging Troublegum by Northern Irish alt-rock heroes Therapy? was unleashed twenty years ago today, back in the thoroughly transitional musical milieu of early 1994. An impassioned and inexorable fourteen-track masterstroke borne from social disillusion and the laws of unspoken smalltown psychosis, it saw frontman Andy Cairns, bassist Michael “The Evil Priest” McKeegan and drummer Fyfe Ewing propelled from emerging contenders to bona fide alternative rock demigods.

From the gloriously demented ‘Knives’ to closing rampage ‘Brainsaw’, Troublegum forged Cairns’ deeply intelligent and masterfully sardonic lyrics, Ewing’s mighty rhythmic élan and a breathless deluge of earworming, generation-defining pop-punk hooks coloured by the band’s distinctive malevolent touch. With grunge – ever contorted and contended – on the brink of disappearing up its own backside, singles from the album including ‘Screamager’, ‘Turn’ and the timelessly anthemic ‘Nowhere’ distilled the fragmented consciousness of a decidedly self-aware new generation.

A forty-five minute soundtrack to everyday existential uncertainty and personal becoming, Troublegum remains, two whole decades after its initial release an immersive purge, a breathless confrontation with the demons that plague the attuned and a masterfully balanced tête-à-tête with the underbelly of introspection that strikes an inspired balance between exposing the darkness that lurks beneath with a youthful capitulation of spirit. Whether you look to the endless unforgettable choruses, chainsaw guitar lines or Cairns’ burrowing one-liners, it had and continues to have it all.

Revisit Troublegum via Spotify or YouTube below.

is the editor of The Thin Air. Talk to him about Philip Glass and/or follow him on Twitter @brianconey.